Saving money is a lost art for Americans, as a 2015 survey found that 62 percent didn’t even have $1,000 saved. In 2016, the percentage of their income that people saved was half of what it was 50 years prior.
If you aren’t saving money, you’re setting yourself up for financial troubles in the future. Without an emergency fund, you could end up putting unexpected bills on your credit card or getting a high-interest short-term loan, such as payday loans and car title loans. Saving doesn’t need to be a monumental task, though, as there are several simple ways you can save more.
- Set Up Automatic Transfers
The best way to save money is to make a deposit into your savings first every time you get paid. Commit to setting aside a certain amount of money – 10 percent of your income is a great place to start. While you can do this manually, it’s better to set up automatic transfers so you don’t forget to save or put it off.
- Round Up Your Purchases
Call it saving spare change with a modern twist. There are savings apps, such as Acorn, that you link to your debit or credit card. Every time you make a purchase with your card, the app rounds it up to the nearest dollar and puts the extra money into an investment portfolio.
- Cut Down on Nonessential Services
Do you really need cable TV, Netflix and HBO Go? Opting for only a streaming service and getting rid of cable could save you $30 per month or more, and you’ll still have plenty of content available. Go through the subscription services you pay for every month and make cuts on anything you’re not using frequently.
- Sleep on Potential Purchases
One reason people have so much trouble saving money is because they spend too much on things they want, but don’t need. There’s an easy way to stop impulse purchases, though. Whenever you’re going to spend more than a certain amount on a purchase, give yourself at least 24 hours to think it over. You’ll find that many of those must-have items aren’t things you need.
- Join Every Free Rewards Program
Almost every major retailer has a rewards program to entice people to spend more money. But receiving constant coupon offers can lead to overspending. Instead of providing your personal email address for these programs, create a new email account for reward program accounts only. Sign up for free reward programs with all the retailers that you shop at. When you want to buy something, check your email for any coupons that retailer has sent you.
- Use a Credit Card and Always Pay Off the Balance
If you use the right credit card, you can earn 1.5-percent cashback or more on all your purchases. A travel rewards credit card is another option if you know how to make the best use of your reward points.
The best way to use a credit card is putting all the expenses you can on the card, and then paying off the balance in full by the due date. You get a return on the money you spend without paying anything in interest. The key is that you stay disciplined and never carry a balance.
Saving money is all about getting in the right financial habits. When you make small changes, they can add up to big long-term results.